Review: WTB Vigilante Tires

27.5 29er Pro Reviews Tires

WTB Vigilante 29″ TCS version.

The WTB Vigilante is a moderately fat 2.3″ tire, that is sticky, durable and pliable, and it comes in all the current sizes. It has some impressive characteristics, including great traction and braking qualities, amazing adhesion on rock slabs, predictability in any condition or terrain, and decent rolling and acceleration for a big tire. The combination of the tough and durable sidewalls and open tread with a soft compound, makes for an excellent tire for Enduro racing, loose conditions and rocky infused terrain.

The WTB Vigilante is a 2.3″ Enduro tire, that comes in 26″, 650b and 29″ sizes. The All Mountain beef Meister uses an aggressive open block tread design, is TCS (Tubeless Compatible System), and is available two different compounds, the Dual DNA (all sizes) with a base of 60a and outer of 50a and the Team Issue Gravity DNA (26 and 650b only) with a base of 60a and softer outer of 45a. The tires have three different sidewall protection systems; the normal TCS version (all sizes) gets a tough and protective nylon casing, while the 29er gets an optional AM version which is reinforced with their Inner Peace rubber insert for additional abrasion and damage support, and the Team Issue version (26 and 650b only) gets their ulta tough Enduro casing, which uses the Inner Peace insert and the cut-resistant Silver Lining. The tires retail in price from $64.95 to $76.95, depending the chosen model. I tested the TCS version of the 650b and 29″.

WTB Vigilante open tread design, note the square shape, and alternating center knobs and tiered shoulder and sides.

Impressions

My local testing terrain is predominantly loose rocky conditions, with many long steep climbs and descents, rock gardens, slick rock, an occasional smooth singletrack and lots of ugly, loose gravel. I tend to enjoy gnarly technical terrain, where precise steering and maneuvering are required and intricate follow-through, and full commitment is required. This was an unusual year, and the typical dry conditions were interspersed with lots of moisture, so the tires got lots of wet condition testing, though no overtly deep mud. I used the tire on my Ibis Ripley 29er and Mojo HD (650b mode), and although they worked well on either bike, and I have especially liked them on the 29er. Personal stats: 5’9″ and 160 lbs.

The Vigilantes are an aggressive All Mountain design with an open tread pattern and large square lugs, and the profile measured out to a knob width of 2.34″ and a 2.28″ carcass. They weighed 870g and 867g for the 650b version, and 816g and 812g for the 29er, though I am not sure why the 29″ size came in at a lower weight? They have an alternating set of single and dual knobs down the center, and one inner shoulder knob between two side ones, and all of them are deeply sipped. I ran them tubeless, since that is always my preference for any tire, as it offers a better feel, no pinch flats and allows lower pressures to be run.

They weren’t difficult to set up tubeless with my compressor, and though sidewalls were flexible, the bead was tough to pry onto the rim. I added one mini bottle of sealant to each tire after the initial inflation to aid with any leaks, and to make sure it sealed any tire and rim interface issues. I never had any leakage, loss of air and burping problems while running them tubeless. I tested the tires with a huge variance of pressures, but found the lower the better, and tended to keep them at 22 psi, as that’s where they really started to purr and come to life.

Make no mistake, this is a big tire that has a large footprint and volume, and along with their tread design, it gives great traction, braking and cornering on just about anything, including loose gravel and dirt, in wet or dry conditions. When you toss the tires deeply over they hook up nicely, and they love to fly through big berms like they’re on a rail. Even when the front end would lightly wash out occasionally, it did so in a predictable manner, and you never felt a loss of control. They roll and accelerate decently for their size, and they never felt ponderous, though they definitely aren’t cross-country race machines.

Even though the tire doesn’t feel that soft, it’s very pliable and conforming, and when motoring up and down through gnarly terrain, including ledges, rock gardens, roots and slabs, it offers great traction and composure and steering. One big highlight is that they stuck like glue on rock slabs and slick rock, giving one impressive braking and traction capabilities, even on extremely steep pitches. I used them in wet sand, gravel and some mud, and they adhered to rocks and roots without any undue slippage, and they worked especially well on wet rocks.

I have tossed them into some ugly terrain, everything from burly rock gardens to bike parks, and I have as yet suffered any sidewall’s tears or damage. The tread has been very durable, and though it has some normal wear and tear, no knob has torn off as yet.

WTB Vigilante installed on the Ibis Ripley 29er bike.

Bottom Line

This is one of my favorite tires of late, and I have used it in technical rock gardens, long rides, bike parks and Enduro races, and it has always shone no matter what terrain or condition it was tossed into. Although the sidewalls seem on the thin side, I never had any issues with tears or abrasions, and the knobs have been very durable for a meaty and sticky tire. It rolls decently for such a big tire, though it’s not an x-country racer. The open tread design and square knobs offer great traction, braking and cornering, and the pliable, sticky and conformable rubber compound provides composure, control and steering throughout any sort of gnarly terrain. Some highlights are the tires amazing glue like qualities on rock slabs and slick rock, and its predictability, meaning even when it gets unnerved or washes out, you know what’s going to happen and can easily regain control.

The WTB Vigilante 2.3″ tire is sticky, durable and pliable, and its open tread design and square knobs, along with it large footprint and volume, offer great traction, braking and cornering.

Pros
  • Superb on slickrock and rock slab
  • Sticky, pliable and conformable tread and knobs
  • Great traction, braking and cornering
  • Durable tread
  • Predictable
  • Large footprint and volume
Cons
  • Just decent rolling resistance and acceleration
  • Front end can wash out on occasion
  • Sidewalls aren’t the stoutest in normal TCS version
Overall Rating

4.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

Review: WTB Vigilante Tires Gallery
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WTB Vigilante

WTB Vigilante installed on the Ibis Ripley 29er bike
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WTB Vigilante

WTB Vigilante open tread design, note the square shape, and alternating center knobs and tiered shoulder and sides
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WTB Vigilante

WTB Vigilante 29" TCS version


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About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian has been part of the Mtbr team since 2007, where he has become an integral member of the review and test staff, specializing in technical articles. He likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, extreme skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth and hyperbolic articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on extremely technical singletrack.


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  • Rob Robins says:

    I saw this tire at the downie race a couple weeks ago. I looked almost exactly like the Schwalbe Hans Dampf Trailstar that I had on my bike,,,

  • rednova says:

    This is a WTB Muddy Mary!

  • bob says:

    So how does this compare to the Hans Dampf?

    • Brian Mullin says:

      The Vigilante’s have better braking and traction and stickiness (especially on rock slabs and slick rock), while the Hans feel slightly better in front for cornering, though the Vig’s hook up better when rolled way over. The Hans have good sidewall protection with the snakeskin (though the Team Edition version might help the Vig’s – not tested as yet), but the Hans aren’t very durable, and tend to have knobs that can tear prematurely. I’ll try and do a test with the Hans Super Gravity in front with the Vig’s and see how they perform.

  • bob says:

    The fit on Stans Flows is TIGHT! Broke a spoke trying to mount this tire.

  • Tad says:

    bob – WTB tires are listed on Stans website as not compatible with their notubes rims ;)

    • Brian Mullin says:

      I have run the tires just fine on Stans Flow EX and some Pacenti TL31′s, the latter are much tougher to get any tire to work as tubeless.

    • bob says:

      I figured that was the case. Never had to pull so hard to mount a tire. Tried using levers, but the bead just kept slipping.

  • John Cole says:

    Looks like a great tire, One of the best sticky tires I have ever had was the WTB STOUT,still have a couple. Myself and a couple friends stocked up on them when they quit making them. Have to wear my last pair out to try the new Vigilante! JC

  • mattthemuppet says:

    nice write up, thanks. Interesting comparison to the Hans Dampf as well – the one I have on the front works very well, but the HD on the rear is much less impressive and it’s wearing very fast (both Pacestar compound). They also both have multiple pinhole leaks both on the tread and the sidewalls. If these WTB Vigs hold up better and grip rocks well (here’s its rocks on rocks on rocks) then this would be a great replacement for my rear HD, for quite a bit less money too.

  • Chet Bredwell says:

    Is there any tire that isn’t superb on slickrock and rock slab? On slickrock a fully bald tire works fine. On rock slab, perhaps if the slab is wet there would be compromised traction, but generally rock slab is pretty secure.

    If the front end washes out on occasion, it would help to know what were the occasions.

    WTB tires are known for squirmy, flexy shoulder knobs. How were the shoulder knobs on this Vigilante tire?

  • liquidSpin says:

    Seriously, They pretty much ripped off Schwalbe. Look at the treads of the Nobby Nic and compare them to these and you’ll start to see a huge similarity.

  • Stephen says:

    I have been running a 2.3 29er Vigilante and a 2.2 Bronson on my 2013 Cannondale Scalpel with great results,my fav tires as of late….they replaced Maxxis Ardent/Ignitor combo…..I still do not see why people have problems mounting tires tubeless…such an effortless job….I mounted these tubeless with a frame pump,easy as pie….these are still very new to me and still playing around with air pressure so they should be dialed in by next year….I’m going to try them front and rear also,something I rarely do….also bought a WTB Valcon saddle at the same time and love it,it just disappears underneath you…I ride a min. of 2.5 hours to 5 hours on a normal ride and at the end of that I am very fresh,like I only rode for 15 minutes….great products.

  • Adam M says:

    Been running nevegal 2.3 front and IRC Serac 2.1 rear for typical north east rocky, rooty technical trail riding. Pretty happy overall but I’m going tubless when this wears out. Was thinking of trying a combo of WTB 2.3 Bronson and 2.1 Moto but this review has me considering the Vigilantes instead. Thoughts?

  • Lush says:

    I agree with the above post comment regarding Nobby Nics to the Vig. Just put my hands on a pair of Vigs, not mounted yet, but the Vigs blocks are burlier than the Nic. I loved my Nics and I’m anxious to see how these compare. Also have a pair of new 2.4 Mountain Kings on my other bike, similar pattern as well. Looks like these enduro tires are gaining popularity.

  • Marc friedman says:

    If you have a Stan’s rim that had a previously mounted tire don’t buy this ! This tire is too tight to ride up onto the outside of the rim. It will not seat. I have now tried for 90 min with a compressor and experience and can so its a no go. I ran into problems not as bad as this with the Bronson but this is way way over the top. This is another example of stuff made in China that looks superficially good but isn’t in reality.

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